Ever since the dawn of time, mankind has defined itself by what it wore. For instance, the biblical story of Adam and Eve has the first clothes being made as a result of the sin of the original couple. Less religious accounts of man’s early years were that Neolithic man made clothing out of the skins of animals, so as not to waste any bit of the bison or deer that early man hunted.
Whichever way you look at it, clothes throughout history have made a statement about the wearer. Royalty has customarily been robed in purple, a colour that was reserved solely for sovereigns throughout millennia. Though we are no longer as restricted by class, caste or culture, clothing can still make a big statement. For instance, in some upper class circles, one is many times judged by such seemingly insignificant details as the knot of a tie or the placing of a cuff link. However, these details are more internally recognized rather than externally expressed.
There are a variety of factors that can contribute towards ones style of dress. Perhaps the most influential of these is the rebellion against authority that characterizes many people during their teen years. This rebellion is usually a result of puberty, along with an increased level of exposure to society, new ideas and thought patterns. This will usually result in exacerbation of the rebellion or resistance that the adolescent is experiencing. And, since people are usually quite different, this can express itself in a variety of different ways.
Teens who express their disdain for the mainstream, will sometimes dress in a gothic fashion. Goths, usually wear great amounts of makeup, eye liner and fingernail polish. In addition to this, they will usually wear clothes that are predominantly black or grey, and sport chains, necklaces or bracelets with studs or spikes. The style started out as an offshoot from punk, which was originally inspired by the early romantic and gothic poets, such as Poe and Lovecraft. It was perpetuated in large part by many famous musicians, such as The Damned and The Cure, who have adopted the style as part of their act.
Another style of dress that is common nowadays is connected to the so-called “hipster” movement. One of the distinguishing facets of the movement is the adoption of irony as a buzzword. This comes across in various ways, but one of the most obvious uses is in the rash of “ironic” white trash t-shirts – that carry messages the middle class wearer obviously disagrees with, but which are worn for ironic effect.
Characteristics of this fashion style is the use of many-coloured mismatched clothing. Though people have worn many colours in the past to make themselves stand out, the hipster fashion style seems to have taken this concept to the extreme, and appear to be trying to adorn themselves with as many colours as they possibly can – perhaps in an attempt to recreate the fabled coat of many colours. Bright colours seem to be especially favoured, with green and yellow and orange being some favourites among that subculture.
Mods and Rockers
Subcultures have always been prevalent within affluent societies, where individuals have time and money to spend on their appearance. During the 1960’s the aspiration working classes, armed with money from the post war boom, diverged into Mod and Rocker subcultures, popularized by the 1964 film “Quadrophenia”. Mods had a penchant for Mo-town, Northern Soul, 3 buttoned suits, and scooters (the more mirrors the better) and their rival subculture, Rockers, would dress in the style of greasers with black leather jackets, white t-shirts, denim and listen to rock and roll.
Many styles of past years and decades have been assimilated into today’s fashions. For example, there are the Audrey Hepburn style of sunglasses that have been out of fashion since the 50s or 60s, yet which have become more popular recently. One of distinguishing factors of the fashion trends seems to be rediscovering something people do not know about – hence the much-belaboured and mocked phrase, “You’ve probably never heard of it.”
Quest for Cool
Once something is out of fashion it becomes “cool” for example grunge was a fashion of the early 90’s now the children born during that period are rediscovering, charity shop, thrift store clothes, flannel shirts and baggy cardigans. Subcultures and fashions are cyclic, for once a child reaches adolescent they natural want to regenerate the styles and fashions before they were born. This is why fashions are recycled around every 15 to 20 years.
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